Ballon d'Or

Messi: "Cristiano equalling my five Ballons d'Or was painful"

France Football spoke to the Barcelona star after he won his sixth award and he said that Ronaldo's fifth spurred him on to win it again.

Messi: "Cristiano equalling my five Ballons d'Or was painful"
Valerio Pennicino - UEFA UEFA via Getty Images

Leo Messi admitted in an interview with France Football that Cristiano Ronaldo drawing level with the Barcelona forward on five Ballons d’Or was “painful” but admitted that the then-Real Madrid forward deserved to win the award in the years that the Argentinean missed out.

Ronaldo won his first Ballon d’Or in 2008 while at Manchester United but was powerless to prevent Messi lifting the award in four consecutive years from 2009 to 2012 to take the tally to four for the Barcelona star to the Portuguese’s one. Ronaldo then claimed the prize in 2013 and 2014 with Messi reaching five in 2015 as Barcelona won the Champions League and a domestic double. Real’s European dominance in 2016 and 2017 drew Ronaldo level with the Argentinean, which Messi admitted was a blow.

Messi: "Cristiano deserved to win and there wasn't much I could do"

On the one hand, I enjoyed being the only player to have won five,” Messi said at the 2019 ceremony in Paris. “When Cristiano equalled me, I have to admit it was a bit painful as I was no longer alone on the summit. But at that moment he deserved to win the Ballon d’Or and there wasn’t much more I could have done.”

Messi and Ronaldo had enjoyed complete hegemony of the award in between Kaká’s victory in 2007 and Luka Modric’s win last year and the Argentinean said he agreed with the decision to hand the Ballon d’Or to Ronaldo in 2016 and 2017. “I understand why I didn’t win. We didn’t achieve our objective of winning the Champions League and that is the competition that gives you the best chance of winning the Ballon d’Or. When Cristiano was winning all the trophies it was because he was putting in very good seasons and winning the Champions League, as well as being decisive in that competition.”

When asked to weigh in on the eternal debate as to who is the better player, Messi replied: “Honestly, I don’t know who the best player in history is. I am a creator, not a goal scorer.”